25 April, 2017
The Golden Visa: Spanish Citizenship for Buyers
The Golden Visa is a passage to Spanish residency created by the government in September 2013 to boost foreign investment in the country’s real estate market. Investing in Spain had become unfashionable ever since the beginning of the recession in 2008, as house prices fell continuously from 2008 to 2014. However, Spain is now beginning to see an improvement in its economic situation: in 2014, a year after the introduction of the Golden Visa, Spanish house prices showed their first signs of growth. This growth has continued cautiously into 2016, and 1.5 years of growth should give hope to any property investor. In this article we examine the Golden Visa and its potential benefits.
The Golden Visa: Has it worked?
The short answer is “yes, but we were all a bit worried for a minute there”. The initial uptake was slow: in the year after the scheme’s launch a mere 324 people had signed up – fewer than one a day. El País described the idea as a flop. The process was too bureaucratic and the requirements too exclusive.
However, in 2015, a number of highly beneficial changes were announced. Most importantly, the changes made the administrative side of getting the visa considerably easier. It also allowed couples (married or in a domestic partnership) to combine their resources to invest.
How can it benefit you?
The main attraction of the Golden Visa is that it allows a non-resident to be in Spain for two years, as opposed to the usual 90 days. Furthermore, there is no minimum to the amount of time you can spend in Spain before renewing it! The 2015 update made the renewal process considerably easier. As such, the Golden Visa has become an extremely convenient path to Spanish citizenship.
The other major benefit of the Golden Visa is that it gives access to free movement in the Schengen area, which includes many of Europe’s most desirable locations. This free movement is particularly enticing now that the 2015 update allowed any descendant or ascendant of the investor to claim the Golden Visa as well. It now allows family travel in Europe!
Finally, it is worth taking into account the relative stability of the market to which the Golden Visa gives access. While Spain has had some serious economic problems, as mentioned earlier, the gradual and consistent growth of its real estate market will appeal to people living in countries where political stability renders the market considerably more volatile. Read about the possible impacts the Catalan Independence Movement can have on the Barcelona real estate market and Golden Visas!
What’s the catch?
Aside from the pretty obvious catch – that you have to spend money – there really isn’t one. It is widely thought that the Spanish real estate market will continue to grow gradually, and there are no hidden strings attached to this deal. There is an application fee, and you should bear in mind that the €500,000 minimum does not include tax spend. Aside from that, what you see is what you get!